MULTICULTURALISM AND GLOBALIZATION
COSMIC ROMANIA 53
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu
special guests astrophotographers Octavian Stanescu and Laurentiu Alimpie-
The city of Timisoara has
a population of about 320,000 inhabitants, a special history
and many interesting things,
plus an astronomical observatory
and two astronomical clubs, Altair and Antares.
Not in the least,
it has the Sun and the Moon on its coat of arms,
as anybody could see on the mayoralty building
(made in a Neo-Romanian style in between 1914 and 1929).
This does not mean that the former building of the mayoralty
(made in the 18th century in the Renaissance-Baroque style
in the Eugene of Savoy Square - the Austrian prince
who conquered the city from the Ottomans)
is not beautiful (even charming!).
On the contrary,
but at a moment it had become too small…
Pushed by the spontaneous idea to celebrate alone
20 years since I participated for the first time at an international event,
the European Convention of Science Fiction 1994 in Timisoara,
I went to that city (over 9 hours by train) again
during the night time in 17/18 October 2014
to rememorize those youth moments
(I had been there with a trilogy of science fiction, fantasy and astronomical poems,
which included the germens for the future astropoetry/cosmopoetry movement
of the Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy,
plus with a folder with astro & sf poems in the English language)
and hoping to find there much urban cosmos.
Trying to resist on the road,
I thought of the pictures of two Timisorean astrophotographers,
so that I felt like a “shadow in the night”
in front of a photo by Octavian Stanescu…
…and dreaming of the Milky Way in a “nightscape”
in front of a photo by Laurentiu Alimpie.
I arrived in Timisoara just when the planet Venus,
close to the Moon,
prepared to set at the edge of the Iosefin District.
And I ran to the centre of the city (the Fortress zone),
hoping to catch it with the Moon and the Sun,
like in the coat of arms.
Timisoara is the most occidental city in Romania
and the unofficial Capital of the historical province of Banat
(almost 30,000 square km),
initially inhabited by Thraco-Dacians,
then conquered by Romans (2nd century BC),
Sarmathians, Goths, Avars…
Banat became part of the Bulgarian Empire,
of the Hungarian Kingdom (the Magyars
founding Temesvar here - now Timisoara - in the 13th century;
in the 14th century, for a few years,
Temesvar became even the Capital of Hungary),
of the Ottoman Empire (since 1552)
and of the Austrian Empire (since 1716).
In November 1918
Banat became a
(German-Hungarian-Serbian-Romanian, after its main nationalities)
republic for a few months,
until it was shared between Serbia (about 1/3), Hungary (about 1%)
and Romania (about 2/3, the Romanians representing
the most numerous community, about 38%,
that determined an unionist movement led by Aurel Cosma, Avram Imbroane
and other importants patriots),
after international accords in 1919.
Regarding its historical Capital,
Timisoara was the city with more international premieres,
such as the first European city lit by electric street lamps.
-Nicolaus Lenau started to Austria
to charm the entire world through his poetry;
-Traian Vuia started to France
to become an aviation pioneer;
-Johnny Weissmuller started to the USA
to become an Olympic champion in swimming
and the best actor in the role of Tarzan;
-Ioan Hollender started to Austria
to become the director of the Vienna Opera;
-Iolanda Balas started to the world
to become the best high jumper of all times;
-Hertha Muller started to Germany
to become a Nobel laureate for literature…
Timisoara is also the city
that started the Romanian anticommunist revolution in 1989.
All these things made me look in Timisoara
(nicknamed Little Vienna)
for essential elements of an extraordinary multiculturalism
and to dedicate this work to the martyrs of this city,
because due to their sacrifice (and of many other heroes)
now I can express myself in freedom.
So I began with the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral,
the largest/tallest church in Romania,
conceived by the Romanian administration as the new symbol of the city,
built in the 1930s in a Neo-Romanian style (with Moldavian accents,
with fine sun crosses and starry saints,
and a wooden crucifix in the Maramuresan style,
added in 1990)
and inaugurated by King Mihai in 1946.
As a prime sample of multiculturalism in Timisoara,
right at a distance of a few ten metres,
there are a Roman-Catholic church and its high school
(made by the Piarist Order in 1909).
Another sample of multiculturalism is the Culture Palace (made in the 1870s),
which hosts the Opera and the Romanian, Magyar and German Theatres.
It is placed in the central square,
where in December 1989 the locals risked their lives
declaring Timisoara a city free of communism.
For the 3rd sample of multiculturalism I lowered in history,
going to the Union Square (the oldest in the city, made in the 18th century),
where there are the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral (made in the 1740s),
the Baroque Palace,
a religious monument with a stylized sun,
the Roman-Catholic Dome (founded by Jesuits in the 1730s),
and, close to the square, the (Protestant) Evangelic-Lutheran Church
(made in the 19th century).
All these three confessional edifices have interesting cosmic elements
(a sculpture with a sun cross in the Serbian one, a star in the Catholic one,
the Divine Eye surrounded by beams in the Lutheran one)
and show respect to astronomy, having public clocks…
Then I lived astronomical emotions in three other places:
the Fountain of the Cardinal Points, the Bastion, and a vegetal clock…
I continued to walk through Timisoara
and I passed over the Bega Canal (made in the 18th century
to connect this city to the Danube River),
arriving in the Elisabetin District,
(initially a village inhabited by Romanians near the fortress),
where one of the most impressive buildings is
a Roman-Catholic Church - made in the first two decades of the 20th century
by the Magyar-German-Czech-Slovak zonal community
in the Neo-Gothic style.
Then I enjoyed a few other places and I passed again over the Bega Canal,
this time to the Fabric District,
where I admired another sample of multiculturalism:
the Saint George Church (an Orthodox one,
made by Serbs in the middle of the 19th century),
the Millenium Church (a Roman-Catholic one,
made in the beginning of the 20th century by the Magyar community
in the memory of Szent Istvan, the king who Christianized Hungary in the year 1000),
and a synagogue in the Neo-Mauric + Rannaisance style
(with the never-falling Star of David)
made by Jews in the 1890s.
For another sample of multiculturalism I returned to the centre
near the oldest building of the city,
the Hunyades Castle, made in the 15th century,
when it belonged for a while to the great Magyar King Matya Corvin,
whose father had a Romanian origin
and whose best military commander was Kiniszy Pal
(or Pavel Chinezul in Romanian),
Count of Temesvar with multiple victories against the Ottoman armies.
Today this hero is commemorated by three countries
(Serbia, Hungary and Romania, that also dispute his uncertain origin),
and it is interesting that in the beginning of the 20th century
the Magyars created a football club, Kiniszy Temesvar,
that won the South Hungary championship.
After World War I, that club became Chinezul Timisoara and,
continuing to use only players of Magyar nationality,
won 6 editions of the Romanian championship,
defeated a few famous foreign teams
(Athletic Bilbao, Oxford City, Honved Budapest)
and represented the Romanian national team in 1925
(3-1 against Turkey at Istanbul)!
In the 1930s Chinezul was replaced by Ripensia Timisoara
(named so from Dacia Ripensis, a part of ancient Dacia Aureliana),
that used players of Romanian, Magyar, German and Serbian nationalities,
won 6 editions of the Romanian championship
and eliminated AC Milan from the Central Europe Cup!
Finally I went right to the main stadium of the city,
made in the 1960s for the new football team,
that won 2 editions of the Romanian Cup
and defeated in the European Cups more famous teams:
MTK and Honved Budapest, Celtic Glasgow,
West Ham United, Atletico Madrid, Sporting Lisbon.
This stadium hosted in 1991 even the greatest club of the world
for a memorable match,
Politehnica Timisoara – Real Madrid 1-1!
But in the meantime
multiculturalism has been replaced by globalization,
and a little later, in 2009/2010,
this time using a team
with players from more foreign countries,
Politehica Timisoara qualified for the pools
of the Europe League!
Continuing on this new line,
in 18 October 2014
(just the day when I visited Timisoara!)
the same stadium hosted another historical match,
this time one of rugby:
Rugby Club Municipal Universitatea de Vest Timisoara - London Saracens Storm!
(Timisoara was the champion of Romania in 1972
and won the Central Europe Cup in 2009
using only Romanian players,
then in 2012 and 2013 it won the Romanian Superleague
using many foreign players,
while London Saracens was the champion of England in 2011
and runner up in the Heineken Champions Cup in 2014,
so it was the current vice-champion of Europe
or the second best rugby club in the northern hemisphere.)
Being a very rich club,
Saracens began in 2014 to create an original world network of partners,
so a kind of rugby empire including important clubs
from almost all zones of the Earth:
Tonga for Pacific, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for Asia,
Abu Dhabi for Arabic Countries, Nairobi in Kenya for Africa,
Sao Paolo in Brazil for South America, Seattle in the USA for North America,
Slava Moscow (bronze in the last Russian championship),
Lelo Tbilisi (current champion of Georgia)
and Timisoara (for the European Union).
Taking into consideration that their first team was engaged in matches
for the English (AVIVA) championship, the European cups,
and a terrible inter-continental test with Western Province,
the winner of Currie Cup in South Africa
(score: 46-22 for the English club),
the Saracens decided to launch this world network through a festive match
between the best next two teams of it,
presenting their second team (Saracens Storm,
leader in the AVIVA A championship
and including more internationals of different levels
from the English language space)
against the globalized team of Timisoara (with 14 Romanians
and 9 foreign players from New Zealand, South Africa and the Pacific -
titulars and reserves for this match).
This “imperial symbolic final” of the beginning between two “cosmic” teams
(because the emblem of Saracens includes
a stylized moon in the form of a rugby ball, with a star in the middle,
while the coat of arms of Timisoara City includes, as I said,
the Sun and the Moon)
was very spectacular,
the local organizers adorned it with pyrotechnical shows,
and the hosts obtained an amazing victory:
Timisoara - Saracens Storm 15-10!
(Practically, I was the witness of the first Romanian victory against an English team
after Romania - England Counties 46-24 in 2003!
For short I saw even the Sun among the spectators
(all of them concentrated in the first tribune)
before going west to watch other European matches.
The Sun cannot be globalized,
he exists for anybody for free,
and, after setting, he can be only supplied
by supernovae, nebulae, galaxies and clusters of stars
made by people
as hymns of universal joy.
© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)